As Batman #700 is released to comic stores this week, the Dark Knight hits a new milestone, just as DC Comics is celebrating its 75th anniversary.
The iconic character, who first appeared in Detective Comics back in 1939, hits the 700th issue of his title comic just as the Batman mantle is in a bit of flux, with Bruce Wayne trapped in time and Dick Grayson wearing the cowl until his mentor can return.
With his diverse history over the last 70-plus years, Batman's character has gone through a few changes, with different costumes, weapons, and themes, although his basic back-story has remained the same. Losing his parents to a violent crime at a young age, millionaire Bruce Wayne dons a costume to fight against the world of crime that left him an orphan, becoming the hero known as Batman.
As Batman passes this week's milestone, Newsarama posed a few questions to some of the comic book creators who have worked on the character over the years. See how your memories of Batman match up to the people who have created so many of the Batman's stories:
What's the one thing you love the most about Batman?
Paul Dini: The weird mixture of innovation and consistency. The more you change Batman and his world, the more they remain the same.
Brian Azzarello: That he's a tragic character. He's comics' Hamlet.
Andy Kubert: Tough question, since there isn’t just "one" thing that I love about the character. Artistically, what attracts me is the costume and cape and the brooding nature of not only Batman but the whole Batman mythos. The cape and costume are so iconic, yet you can exaggerate it as much as you want; hide it in shadows and twist the cape around and have it go every which-way but yet it still comes across as Batman.
The rogues’ gallery is also a lot of fun. My favorite to draw is the Joker, and I got to draw a few more (Catwoman, Penguin, etc...) in Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader. I had a great time with that! Gotham City itself is a great character, and another one that isn’t set in standard ways as in drawing a realistic city. You can exaggerate it and stretch it and keep on adding things and it still comes across as Gotham.
The other thing about Batman is the opportunity to be a part of something that I grew up with as a kid that was a part of my life, not only watching the television show and cartoons, but reading the comics. I feel very lucky that I get to be a part of Batman history in my "older" years.
Denny O'Neill: He represents human perfectibility, at least in some areas, and the human characteristic of making lemonade from lemons. Maybe more importantly, he’s a great vehicle for storytelling.
Jeph Loeb: How damaged he is. He made a promise on the grave of his parents to rid the city of the evil that took their lives. No matter what he does, he can never fulfill that promise. Great character stuff.
David Finch: I love that Batman knows who he is, and what he wants. He's very black and white. All of us have to compromise sometimes, so it's very cathartic to read about a character who never ever has.
Greg Rucka: That he is truly and absolutely a tragic figure — every night, the same mission, the same goal: To keep what happened to him from ever happening to anyone else, ever. Every. Single. Night.
And every single night, he fails, because he cannot be everywhere at once. Save a life here, someone dies over there.
And yet, every single night, he'll do it again. Because each life matters.
Pure pathos, that. Pure heroism.
Judd Winick: Beyond the fractured psyche, beyond the massive opera that his story has always been, beyond the fact he's a character that steeped so deeply in realism and tragedy... I love the bit when he's talking to Commissioner Gordon and vanishes mid-sentence. I have always loved that best of all.
What's your favorite Batman cover?Loeb: I'm a pretty big fan of everything Neal Adams ever drew with Batman on it. Batman #244 with Ra's on it. Pretty great. Batman #251 with the Joker. Classic. And I love all the Jim Lee "Hush" covers! And Tim Sale's Batman covers are the best! I have to stop typing now! Finch: Alex Ross' cover to Batman Black and White. Bruce is running his hand over the scars that crisscross his back. It shows in really stark terms the price that he pays for being so uncompromising.
What's your favorite Batman weapon or tool from his belt?
Azzarello: The Bat Soup-Unscrambler. A clue can be left in a bowl of alphabet soup and he can suss it out. I know it's from the TV show, but that's where the utility belt was always used at its best.
Kubert: From the television show, I always like the knock out spray can. For some reason, I always wanted that as a kid...maybe because I’m the youngest in my family with three older brothers!
With the comics, I really like the batarangs. And there’s a new tool that Grant included in Batman #700, which was the satellite laser that follows those red tracking target things that Damian threw at Hugo Strange's Joker virus infected monsters!
Finch: Batman's smoke grenades are the coolest. They can get him out of almost anything.
Dini: The grappling hook. No matter where Batman shoots it, it always catches perfectly on the first shot.
Rucka: Don't have one. They're tools. Best weapon? His brain.
O'Neill: I was never a big fan of the belt. Too much like a deus ex machina.
Loeb: I love the car. But you can't put the car in the belt. Next question!
What's your favorite Batman costume?
Rucka: I'm a sucker for the Neal Adams version, for the simple reason that it's the version of my youth, the one that caught my eye and imagination.
Andy Kubert: A lot of great variations on the Batman costume over the years, but my favorite is the one I drew on the cover to Batman #655.
O'Neill: They all preserve the silhouette, which I think is the suit’s most important aspect.
Finch: The Neal Adams look is my favorite, just because it's what I grew up with.
Winick: The battle armor he wore during his thrown down with Superman in Dark Knight Returns. It killed me when I read it as a kid. It spoke to everything that was Batman. He is so prepared, ingenious, and truly — bad ass. And by the way, it looked so f__ing cool. Still does.
What's your favorite Batman story of all time?
Tony Daniel: My favorite Batman story of all time is Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns. I remember a kid in school bringing it to class and I was dumbstruck at how cool it looked. I had my dad drive me the same day to the comic shop to pick it up. It changed the way I thought of Batman. Even today, I think that story still influences the way I think of Batman.Rucka: Batman: Year One. Miller at his best. Mazzuchelli at his — arguably — best. Still the textbook comic story for the Carbon Age.
Loeb: Year One. Mazzuchelli's artwork I could look at all day and Frank Miller's characters are spot-on and defined what was to come from that point on.
Kubert: Another hard question...there are so many. From Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams` Batman stories through Frank Millers` Dark Knight and Year One work; Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s Long Halloween story and including Grant’s run on Batman and with Frank on Batman and Robin. It’s really hard to pick, as I’m sure I’m even forgetting some. They are all so good and not for the same reasons, so I’ll leave it at that!Dini: Probably "The Joker's Five Way Revenge." It's got all the great elements: A really dark take on the Joker, Batman being a tough guy, a little bit of goofy fun (the shark tank) and some terrific artwork. You can put that issue down for my favorite cover, too.
Finch: My favorite Batman story is Dark Victory. Long Halloween was definitely as good, but that one just grabbed me in a big way.
Winick: Tie. Dark Knight Returns and Frank Miller's Year One. I shouldn't need to explain why.